Judge rules in favor of demolishing Brutalist San Jose building for office park

Preservationists petitioned to save the 48-year-old CityView Plaza building

San Francisco /
Nov.November 02, 2021 03:50 PM
Judge Sunil Kulkarni in front of the CityView Plaza building at 199 Park Avenue (left) and a rendering of the proposed modern tech complex set to replace it (right) (Getty Images, JayPaul.com, iStock, LoopNet)

In a loss for preservationists, a judge has ruled in favor of an office campus that would replace an old bank building in San Jose.

Despite efforts from the Preservation Action Council of San Jose to save the Brutalist building at CityView Plaza, a Santa Clara County judge issued a final ruling that plans for the office campus can move forward, MercuryNews reported.

The proposed office development would replace downtown’s CityView Plaza with a modern tech complex. ​​Jay Paul Co., the developer for the project, said it wants the project to be an “iconic addition” to downtown San Jose’s “modest” skyline.

The Preservation Action Council filed a petition in September 2020 to stop the project based on claims that the bank building at 199 Park Ave. represented an “exceptional” example of the Brutalist architectural style

“Some people think brutalist buildings are cold, impersonal and ugly,” Judge Sunil Kulkarni wrote as part of the introduction to his decision. “Others think such buildings are bold, striking and designed for the public at large.”

The petition alleged that the San Jose City Council’s environmental impact report insufficiently analyzed significant project impacts, mitigations and alternatives. The goal was to block the development until the city could conduct a further environmental review.

On Nov. 1, Judge Kulkarni rejected the petition in his final decision.

The Preservation Action Council had suggested that the Brutalist building could be retained while the rest of the office complex still moved forward, but the judge disagreed. “Substantial evidence supports the city’s finding that keeping the (bank) building is infeasible, in light of technical and economic considerations,” Judge Kulkarni stated in his final ruling.

Activists also urged the court to force developer Jay Paul Co. to contribute to a fund that would preserve historic buildings elsewhere in the city. The judge, however, said he determined the new tech campus wouldn’t affect any of those other historic buildings.

The CityView office project will total 3.6 million square feet once completed. Plans call for three 19-story towers as well as 24,000 square feet of ground-floor retail space.

[Mercury] — Victoria Pruitt





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